Dating After a Divorce: Some Tips on Reentering the Dating Scene
Being recently divorced can leave you in a scary and unfamiliar place. Particularly for long-term partnerships, it can often leave you feeling like you’ve lost the other half of you and don’t know how to operate properly as an individual, let alone even begin to think about how to start dating after divorce.
The sometimes overwhelming surge of emotions and grief will pass with time though and once you start dating after a divorce again, then it only gets more complicated. So here’s our guide to getting past those challenges and rediscovering happiness with someone new.
Some of the challenges in finding love after a divorce
The first and probably toughest hurdle you’ll have to overcome is the grief and emotional fallout from your divorce. According to a study by the National Library of Medicine, the three leading causes of divorce are lack of commitment, infidelity and excessive conflict1.
These are quite difficult setbacks to overcome and can leave you with profound feelings of loss, betrayal, disappointment, hopelessness and rage, which you’ll have to deal with to some reasonable level before you even think about healthy dating after a divorce. Time and sometimes, professional therapy, are the only things that will help heal these emotional wounds.
Divorced people can often feel like damaged goods. As if the failure of their marriage reflects something broken in them. Regaining this self-esteem after a divorce can be trickier than after a simple break-up. So before looking at finding love after marriage, you must first learn to love yourself again. Rely on your support structure of friends and family to get some perspective on your problems as well as provide a safe space to work through your sense of grief and failure.
The legal issues around divorces, particularly drawn-out acrimonious ones that can also sometimes involve children, can also be a huge stressor that stops divorced people from moving on. It’s difficult to start the healing process when you still feel like you’re reliving the traumatic event. It’s important to take time for yourself and confront the truth that however long the process takes, you are a single person again.
This may not be your first divorce and each one of these ruptures further darkens your faith in the notion of marriage and love, as a whole. Perhaps then it’s time to change your approach to dating after a divorce and look for different types of romantic opportunities.
We can also often struggle with self-confidence after a divorce, as we feel as if the onus of the marriage breaking down is partially on us. And while this may be a reasonable perspective, it won’t help you heal. Now’s a good time to also explore yourself more deeply. Reacquaint yourself with who you are outside of your couple identity and start practicing some self-care so you can be the best possible version of yourself when you hit the dating scene.
20 great tips for dating after a divorce
1. Don’t date until you’re ready
It’s important not to rush the process. Until you’ve dealt with residual emotions and psychological hang ups from your previous marriage, you’ll likely have a dysfunctional approach to dating, which could lead to even further emotional turmoil. Take it step by step and try to stay in the moment.
2. Try to figure out what went wrong in your previous marriage
There may have been behavior or communication modes that you developed during your previous marriage that contributed to its gradual erosion and breakdown. So try to take inventory of what you think was to blame for your estrangement from your partner before looking at how to start dating after divorce.
3. Try to maintain a positive frame of mind
Our inner monologue can be our own worst enemies, particularly after we feel like we’ve failed at something. And if you’re constantly putting yourself down and expecting failure, then you will manifest it. People can’t love you until you learn how to love yourself again.
4. Take your time
Baby steps are perfectly acceptable, and even advised, when reentering the dating pool. Your next date isn’t going to be your next partner so learn to just start enjoying the process of dating again. Don’t jump into a committed relationship too quickly but rather explore your options.
5. Figure out what you want first before dating after divorce
What do you currently think you’re emotionally equipped for? You may not be ready for another relationship, so try to make up some goals for your new dating journey. They can be sexual, social or just exploring new things. This can outline a roadmap for your recovery process.
6. Be more specific this time
One of the handiest perks of going through a divorce is knowing what it is that works and doesn’t work for you. Don’t just throw away that knowledge on the first infatuation, use it to find a partner that is better suited to you and who can go the distance with you.
7. Try to stay realistic when looking at how to date after divorce
The fact is, you may be a bit older now, have more emotional baggage and potentially even children to consider while you explore dating. Know that this will affect your dating life and will change your dating model, so go for more healthy, realistic dating prospects.
8. Expand your horizons
You may have thought you knew your type but maybe your divorce is a sign that you may have more than one type. So be open to a broader notion of the type of people that could make you happy when dating after a divorce.
9. Don’t get carried away
This doesn’t mean don’t date actively. Dr. Diana Kirschner’s book Love in 90 Days says, “Four out of five men you go out with will disappear,” and this likely holds similarly for men dating.
10. This isn’t about just dating after a divorce but also reaffirming some of your bonds
Life after a divorce can change drastically but it’s up to you whether this will be a positive or negative thing. Reconnect with old friends, invest more time in your family and try revisiting those old hobbies that married life took the place of when you were younger.
11. Be upfront about the skeletons in your closet
This doesn’t mean you need a laminated card you recite before every new date telling them about your divorce, emotional baggage and your domestic situation. Rather, you should just be clear early on about your situation and what you’re looking for so you don’t waste your time.
12. Use the instincts your experiences have taught you
Unless you’re just dating for fun and to test the waters, it’s time to take advantage of your romantic experiences and be eagle-eyed when it comes to red flags. Don’t fall into the same dating behavioral patterns that led you astray before, trust your intuition.
13. Get yourself out there
When looking at how to date after divorce, you may have thought your socializing days were winding down but you’re going to have to put effort in and attend more events and interact more freely with other singles if you’re hoping to find that next great love.
14. Focus more on compatibility this time around
While raw romantic chemistry is essential to initially building a bond and can be the most exciting part of a relationship, you should also focus on the slightly less passionate notion of compatibility. Do you want the same things, live similar lifestyles or communicate effectively? This is about a long-term vs. short-term perspective.
15. Check out the dating apps
When you’re looking at dating after a divorce, it’s impossible to ignore the influence of dating apps on the dating scene. Across the board, everyone’s online these days. If your marriage predated this trend then you may need some practice but luckily there’s no shortage of singles to get back into the swing of things.
16. Know that the dating scene has changed
This is often the biggest culture shock for the newly divorced. Even if you’ve been out of the dating scene for just a few years, profound changes will have affected how people approach modern dating. The key is to be open and flexible to these exciting new social avenues.
17. Develop a support system
Getting back into dating is not always going to be the smoothest road. But make sure you have friends and family who can not only offer your advice and perspective but also be there for you as a source of solace and comfort when it sometimes gets too rocky.
18. When dating after a divorce, make sure to explore what’s out there
This once again speaks to our need to quickly fill emotional vacuums, particularly the ones left by divorce. But now is the time to practice more caution. If you find yourself liking someone, it doesn’t mean you have to stop dating. Now is the time to have fun and keep your options open.
19. Learn to enjoy it for the experience that it is
Try not to date with too much purpose but rather to rediscover the joy of dating, how engaging it is to get to know someone new and the novel experiences some dates can introduce you to, like an activity you haven’t tried before. The journey is as important as the destination.
20. There’s no such thing as failure
Whether it was a bad date or a good date, don’t let it feed into your expectations or self-esteem when it comes to dating. What’s important is you put yourself out there, explore your potential with someone and, hopefully, it can inform your future dating efforts.
Remember that dating after a divorce should be about you
Working on yourself and effectively finding love after a divorce can sometimes feel like an insurmountable mountain before you, and our emotional baggage only compounds the challenge. But like all journeys. They are taken one step at a time. As long as you’re taking steps, you’re moving forward and as long as you’re moving forward from your pain, you’re headed in the right direction.
At eharmony, we’d like to take that journey with you and support you by introducing you only to people who are just as serious as you are about finding the right person for them. Using advanced compatibility-based matching, we also help make sure you only give your time to connections that can go somewhere. So register today and try us out.